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Courtesy of Jacqueline NGO MPII

One Woman is Making it Easier to Experience Black Life in Paris

Little Africa's Jacqueline NGO MPII tells us about her favorite spots in the heart of African Paris, La Goutte d'Or

On my first trip to Paris 15 years ago, I walked into a tourist office off the Champs Élysées and asked the attendant where I could go to experience "black Paris." The tourism attendant, seemingly at a loss, pulled out a map and circled a neighborhood called La Goutte d'Or, the center of African life in Paris.


Paris has the largest population of black people in Europe. France's long colonial presence in West and North Africa and its unwillingness to break the bond means a large and vibrant African-descended population claims the country as its own. Africanness can be seen in the diversity of the Paris' people, its museums, fashion, art galleries, music—everything.

Fifteen years ago, I took the metro to the Chateau Rouge stop and roamed the streets alone with little information. As I walked past produce shops filled with fish, vegetables and spices, I heard little French spoken. I visited a street lined with boutique clothing shops—a recent effort by the government to gentrify the neighborhood. At the end of my self-guided tour, I settled into a Senegalese restaurant and ate some Thieboudienne.

Today my experience would be much different. All I have to do to experience La Goutte d'Or is reserve a Little Africa AIRBNB experience with Jacqueline NGO MPII. For the last three years, Jacqueline NGO MPII has been quietly building a media empire through her company, Little Africa. In addition to continuing to offer curated tours of Paris through AirBNB experiences, Jacqueline published The City Guide to Little Africa in Paris. Now anyone, wherever they are in the world, can learn about the African people, presence and influence in Paris.

Jacqueline NGO MPII

How did you come to live in Paris?

I am from Cameroon and I arrived in France at the age of 10 to join my mother and my sisters who were born here. It was difficult at first to adapt to the cold (I'm not used to it), to make new friends and especially to find my place in a society where me being different was seen as negative.

What does "Little Africa" mean to you?

Little Africa means showing the whole world, especially tourists who visit Paris (more than 35 million a year), a different view of Africa. This quote by Alain Mabanckou illustrates my work: "France has a big part in the history of Africa and Africa has a big part in the history of France." It is giving legitimacy to those who lack reference to their history, their identity, their attraction.

Can you define what the company Little Africa is to someone who has never heard of it?

Little Africa is a cultural and tourist agency that takes you beyond the borders of Africa. It is a space for reflection on the African presence in major western capitals and elsewhere. It is a space that erases the clichés against African people in these cities by showing the image of a beautiful and majestic contemporary Africa.

How did you decide to create a tour based in La Goutte d'Or?

The neighborhood of La Goutte d'Or is located in one of the most visited districts of Paris. On the typical tourism tour in this district, tourists see the Sacré Coeur church and experience the bohemian life. This is what France sells to Americans. But no one tells them about this neighborhood of black and arab people. It's a neighborhood that suffered for many years from neglect, and the media often depicted it negatively. When I started exploring the district, I met a lot of owners of the shops, black and white people. What they were doing was beautiful. I wanted to change the image of the neighborhood and to help the shops around there to benefit from the economic impact of tourism.

What inspired you to create a company that aims to share the best of Africa, but through Paris?

African culture is present outside of Africa. She is at the corner of the street, especially in Paris. It is the largest African community in Europe. But it is rare that it is promoted positively in the media. Immigrants and their cultures are often blamed as attacking the values of the countries they live in. There has also been a negative image of African presences in France (polygamy, delinquency, school failures, prostitution, religions). We need to show what immigrants have brought and continue to do in these countries (population, art, music, gastronomy, spices, intellectuals, literary thought, manpower). Take any big city in the Western world the scenario is the same.

When and how did you come up with the Little Africa company idea?

It is a long story. The original project was to create a travel agency that would discover Africa with strong social themes. I have not been able to achieve this project because of lack of funding. I thought up the Big project, but now I had to think little to make it more accessible less gigantic! Today Little Africa is a company that curates experiences—we help you travel Africa by curating experiences in Paris. I want people to get out of their homes, make them think. The book has allowed Little Africa to really grow and become a company. I felt like people needed something besides my visit. Something was missing, so I decided to do a 230-page travel and cultural book.

What are your favorite activities in Paris that relate directly to Little Africa?

Museum: The Immigration Museum

This museum explains the immigration in France so there is a lot of information on immigration from Africa. The motif on the outside of the building is very interesting because it tells the story of the colonial conquest of Africa by France.

Restaurant: Ô petit club African

The food is very well cooked. It's a good price for value.

Shop: Maison Chateau Rouge

It's a concept store. It's very colorful and the guys over there are very nice. They sell, books, nice objects, games and jewelry.

BookStore: La Librarie Voyageurs du Monde

It's one of my favorite bookstores in Paris. It has a large number of lifestyle and cooking books.


Courtesy of Jacqueline NGO MPII

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Scream all you want. Feel the euphoria of Kanye moving to our drums, but don't forget he's here for marketing.

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Kanye West was supposed to drop his ninth studio album on Saturday, September 29. After two days of waiting, three Saturday Night Live performances, one tweet from Kim Kardashian-West and an appearance on TMZ Live, Yandhi was pushed back to Black Friday, November 23. West admitted that he "didn't finish" the album in time, and a member of his management staff suggested pushing the release back.

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In Africa, Kanye West hasn't laid low. Photos from his arrival hit the internet, and somehow, he was filmed listening, dancing and vibing to African music. Those songs include Mystro's "Immediately," and Burna Boy's "Ye." The videos have gone viral, Africans are wowed by Kanye's interaction with their music, reactions and takes, Africa is moved by Kanye West interacting with our music. Somehow, I used to think we are over this type of event. The event where an an American superstar, who has a huge fan base in Africa, dances to our music, and we lose it. But I was wrong. This content format still has power.

Scream all you want. Feel the euphoria of Kanye moving to our drums, but don't forget he's here for marketing. His album is about to drop, and he's publicly alerted the world that he needs to be in Africa and its strong cultural influence to complete the project. Everyone is watching, the conversation has global traction, and Africans are supporting him. Since Kanye got heat for his infamous "Slavery was a choice," comment, I knew Africa will become a part of that story. The past week has seen him visit President Donald Trump at the white house, and further moved away from the love of his African-American base in the US. Black people are not behind Kanye West right now. The media is tearing him to shreds. Celebrities are in a social media race to dissociate themselves from him. Many fans aren't proud of their icon. But he is in the Motherland, dancing to its native music, and we can all cheer.

"I'm in Africa recording," he says in a 9 minute video on Twitter about mind control free thinking and his greatness. "We just took them to the future with the dome. The music is the best on the planet. I am the best living recording artist. We, rather, because the spirits flow through me. The spirit of Fela, the spirit of Marley, the spirit of Pac flows through me. We know who the best. We know."

On the surface, Africa appears to be a gimmick. A play by a great artist to expand the story of his album for marketing talking points. Yandhi is already anticipated, and generations after us will study his art and point to this project as the one where Africa played a direct role. This black continent is a marketing tool for Kanye. Son of Fela Kuti, Seun Kuti, has already disassociated Fela Kuti's spirit from Kanye's claims. "On behalf of the Kuti family, I want to state that the spirit of Olufela Anikulapo Kuti isn't anywhere near Kanye West," Seun announced on Instagram.

Perhaps marketing isn't Kanye's only reason for his African trip. Maybe, the world is too harsh on Kanye West and his new level of introspective vibrations. Maybe we aren't seeing the bigger picture. Oh gosh! We might all be victims of this grand mind control programme that West talks about! What if Kanye West is on these shores for some actual influence? Africa has a rich spectrum of sounds, laden with enough culture, soul and character to influence any type of music. From Cairo down to Lagos, there's enough music to add colour.

A clear way for justification of his African trip is perhaps for Kanye West to give back. He is connecting to the 'roots' after all. He is soaking in the energy for inspiration. Perhaps he might actually get to work with an African artist while on the continent. Already, Perhaps Africa's contributions to the project will be anchored by an African. Already, in his creative dome, Ugandan producer extraordinaire, Benon Mugumbya, has been pictured. If he gets some of that Yhandi shine, it wouldn't hurt.

Kanye officially has to be the first hip-hop star to make a trip to the continent for direct inspiration since Africa began to hug the spotlight as an interesting market for global music players. Recent years have witnessed the penetration of African music into global pop spaces. Africa has become the new cool. And as her sonic influence grows, more artists would continue to find new ways to interact. Kanye is making a splash with this. Perhaps, he will be the inspiration for more exchange between Africa and Europe.

Perhaps, his music isn't his true reason for this trip. Maybe Ye just wants to get away from the madness from the USA, and go find Wakanda. Maybe he will discover Ye-Kanda. Either way, only the final version of Yhandi will contain the answers that we seek, and Kanye West's true intention. For now, he is already winning. All those marketing points are already helping the project.

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